Hiking Tours in Thimphu
Being the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu offers unique opportunities to explore the Bhutanese culture and traditions in depth. Whether you are interested in spirituality, Buddhism or astrology, experiencing different aspects of the local culture such as weaving, sacred paintings or the local markets, or would like to gain an insight into the abundant flora and fauna of Bhutan, we will see to that your curiosity and interests be satisfied.
We can include some of the below given day hikes or short hikes in your customised tour itinerary as per your interest at the time of designing your Bhutan tour itineraries.
A Day Hike to Phajoding: A hike to Phajoding Ghoenpa which is about 5 km distance and estimated trekking time is about 5 hours round trip. It is one of the most interesting day hiking trails in Thimphu. The hike starts from the upper valley of Motithang-Thimphu just above the Takin Preserve with the gentle climbs through the forest of blue pine, rhododendrons, oak and many other high altitude plants. The snake trail curves take you for about 2 hours uphill on the same slope before you take final left inclined up to a small stupa, which offers the best view of upper Thimphu valley. From here another hour hike up will take you to an open area where you can see few houses built at the base of Phajoding top.
Phojoding Ghoenpa is a large monastic complex with 10 temples and 15 monastic residences; many of them are being used for extended period of mediation and spiritual retreats. It was founded int eh 13ht century by Togden Pajo, a yogi from Tibet, who was searching for a place of meditation. Most of the temples were built in 1748 through the efforts of Shakya Rinchen, the 9th Je Khenpo ( a chief abbot of Bhutan).
You will enjoy our packed picnic lunch here and take another 30mins walk to Thujidrag Ghoenpa (monastery) from where we can see Thimphu valley and also you will enjoy panoramic view of Himalayan mountain ranges. Return back to the Monastery and visit the temple before descending down. Enjoy your time at the pass taking picture, walking around.
Later in the afternoon you will retrace your walk back to hike start point from where we will be picked up by our car and drop at the hotel.
A Day Hike to Drolung Ghoenpa: Take a packed picnic lunch and drive for about 14 km /25 minutes towards northern end of Thimphu and hike up in the pristine nature to Drolung Sangacholing Ghoenpa (monastery) which is located on the top of a mountain above Thimphu valley at about 3200 m .
The Drolung Sangacholinh Ghoenpa and surrounding small temples serve as meditation center for monks who undergone 3-6 years spiritual retreat. Many Buddhist masters had meditated here and it would be a great blessings to visit the remote yet sacred monastery, at the same time enjoying wonderful hike through serene and pristine nature with breathtakingly beautiful views of Himalayan mountain ranges and Thimphu valley below.
The hike uphill to Drolung Ghoenpa will take about 2 ½ hours and hike back to the base will take about 1 ½ hours. Round trip will take roughly 4 hours.
You will enjoy your packed picnic lunch and visit the monastery and you will see only a couple of monks at this monastery because monks who are in retreat will not be seen. You can experience out of the world complete peace and serenity while taking in the great snowcapped mountain peaks in the clear winter sky.
Then walk back down to the road where your car will wait for you and drive back to your hotel.
A Short Hikes to Tango Monastery & Chagri Monastery: Travel towards the northern end of Thimphu valley, you will come to the base camp of Tango Monastery which is located at about 14 km from Thimphu city.
Starting point of this hike is from the parking lot which is the end of motor road. You will hike up to the Monastery following the zig-zag trail through the forest filled with oak and pine trees as well as rhododendron flower trees which will be in full bloom during spring season.
Hiking for about 40 minutes you will come to a Chorten (stupa). From here you have an excellent view of several meditation houses and the monastery straight ahead. Then hike up another 20 minutes to the monastery. The round trip hike is about 2.5 km and estimated hiking time is about 2 hours.
The Tango Monastery site has had religious significance since the 12th century when it was the home of the highly revered Buddhist monks who brought the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Buddhism to Bhutan. The Tango Monastery was built in 1689 by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgyal. The three-storied monastery was built with the help of the locals and was completed within two months.
At present Tango Monastery is the center for higher studies for monks. The view from Tango Monastery is breathtakingly beautiful. You will experience complete peace and serenity in this area. After visiting the monastery, walk back to the road and drive to the base of Chagri Monastery where you will eat your packed picnic lunch by the side of the river.
After lunch hike to Chagri Monastery, walking across the bridge and following a zig-zag trail through the nature filled with oak trees and rhododendrons which would be in full bloom in spring season. After 25 to 30 minutes hike you will come to a chorten (stupa), which you leave to your right (to show your respect, you always walk around it in clockwise direction) and zig-zag on toward the buildings which you see every now and then above you for about another 25-30 minutes and you will reach the Chagri Monastery. This is the place where monks undergo extended period of meditation and spiritual retreat with a duration ranging from 4 months to 3 years.
Therefore, this place is so peaceful that you will experience complete serenity at this place. Often goral or wild goats are spotted jumping around on the cliffs near the monastery.Chagri monastery is considered very sacred. It contains the remains of Tempi Nima, the father of the first Shabdrung of Bhutan, and beautiful frescoes of Buddhist saints. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built it in 1620 in memory of his father.
A round trip hike distance is about 2.7 km and estimated hiking time is about 2 hours. The view from Cheri Monastery is breathtakingly beautiful. You can sit in one of the temples of this monastery complex and meditate for some time if you would like to do so. Then walk back to the base where your car will wait for you and then travel back to your hotel in Thimphu.
Hike to Dodedrak Goenpa
The hike to Dodedrak involves yet another struggle up the mountainside, but few hikes are as rewarding as this one in terms of scenic beauty and insights to Buddhist architecture, craftsmanship and mysticism.
After entering Royal property close to the 4th King’s Palace and walking the first ten minutes on paved road, the trail sets off steeply up the mountainside for about 1 – 1 ½ hour. As you move upwards, Thimphu town reveals itself, and you will have great views of Wangditse and Dechen Phodrag temples. The last part of the walk takes you along the hillside overlooking Thimphu on your left, past a huge rock used as a study spot for the monks, and to a chorten. Awaiting around the corner, is the sight of a beautifully situated, magical monk village established around the mysterious 12th century temple, Dodedrak. Walk through the parish among the young monks until reaching the first of the three temples. Very often, you will see white languor monkeys playing in the trees below. The courtyard area outside the temples has great picnic spot. Take plenty of time to let the mystery reveal itself before returning to the real world.
When you are ready to leave this magical place behind, set off on the same trail that led you here until you again reach the chorten. From here, follow the upper trail which will lead you gently down towards Dechhencholing Goemba and the Queen Mother’s Palace.
Dodedrak village arose around a temple prophesied by the Chief Abbot Yonten Thaye, the reincarnation of Channa Dorji (The God of Power and Energy), when he was working as a teacher in Phadjodhing in the 12th century. After his vision, he later came to build the temple in the face of a huge rock split in two.
The two altar rooms are equally interesting; both with red carpeted floors and with original 900-year old paintings. As you walk up to the altar rooms on the 1st floor, the view of the temple’s protective deity, Dorji Pelpa, outlined in the stone wall is awesome. This imprinted sketch is believed to be self-created. The roof of the first temple is filled with remarkable mandalas.
There are two rock wall paintings at the entrance area of the temples. The extraordinary shapes of the stone walls are believed to be natural, and with help of colors, the first painted wall tells the history of Dodedrak. The second painted wall is the vision of Dodedrak and depicts what the area looks like today.
You can also see the Paradise of Guru Rinpoche. The second altar room has statues of four chief abbots, where the abbot Jamyang Gyeltshen is believed to have created all the other statues the temple holds as well as the paintings. It is said that when he died, one could observe tears falling from the eyes of the statues and the gods depicted in the paintings.
In the 1980s, the 4th King initiated the development of a lobdra (monastic school) and a shedra (Buddhist college) in the Dodedrak area which now consists of numerous small houses scattered in the hillside among three lhakhangs and a stupa which is believed to bring peace and harmony to the community. 154 monks aged 15-28 now inhabit the village. A three hour hike above the village is a 1000-year old meditation retreat inhabited by hermits who have meditated here for as long as 12 years.
TIME : 4 – 5 hours. Difficulty level Moderate
A Short Hike to Wangditse Ghoenpa: Drive to Sangaygang (BBS Tower) top and start the 2 hours hike to Wangditse. Hiking over the hill of Sangaygang takes you to Wangditse Ghoenpa (monastery). The trail takes you through nature and passes a stupa and follows the contours along the mountain side until you reach at Wangditse.
The hike offers great views of TrashiChhoe Dzong (fortress) and upper valley of Thimphu. From Wangditse Ghoenpa, you will decent down to Dechenphodrang Monastic school which will take about 30mins walk . From there your car will pick you up .